Australia “on route’ The Journey!

 

Thursday 24th May 2018

I hadn’t let on that I was nervous about doing the passage from Vanuatu to Australia, anyone who reads my blog is well acquainted with my fear of ocean crossings. However, in an effort to be brave, I was determined that I was going to make this trip. 

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True Blue Crew

Don hadn’t let me make the crossing from New Zealand to Vanuatu, out of concern for my welfare, the chance of dislocating my hip if the going got rough was very real, given my history. As it turned out it was probably the right decision as they had to endure a few days of really rough weather on the crossing.  It’s been almost five months since my last dislocation and I’m feeling really good now, I’m still mindful of being careful, the fear of doing it again is still fresh in my mind, not to mention the trauma I inflicted on my closest friends Paul & Trish, if they will ever recover from that traumatizing event is still unknown.  There’s also the threat from my surgeon that if I do it again I’m  straight back into surgery.  Anyway enough about my bloody hip.

When we left Vanuatu,( the we being ‘me, Bob, Lesley, Don, Glen & Stuart) we had clear blue skies and friendly seas.  The first two days and nights were actually lovely, although I did sleep through much of it, just getting up to help Lesley in the galley.  

True Blue was rolling a bit although we were flying along between 9 & 10 knots.  The third day got a little rough with confused seas and much more rolling around, surprisingly I was able to function really well in the galley, we had the air con on and that really helped, but cooking or doing anything really was quite a challenge as you have to always have one hand holding on to something.  

Lesley and I stand in the galley in a partial warrior pose (Yoga), in order to balance while we work.  I wish Bob had filmed us making meals it would have been quite the comedy to watch later on.  Trying to work out how I explain to ‘non sailors’ what it feels like to be in rough seas is hard, as I can’t really imagine anything else like it; the floor is constantly tipping from side to side and occasionally jumping up and down, or as I like to say skipping, because that’s what it feels like to me; in a heartbeat you can go from feeling steady and secure to being thrown up in the air, or catapulted unceremonously in any direction other than which one was planning to go, or not, as the case may be.  One very sleepless night in bed, while the boat was doing its very best to tip me out, my imagination flipped into gear (my imagination is like a crazy hamster on a wheel). I imagined that if I was standing on the shoulder of a giant who was striding along swinging his shoulders from side to side as he loped forward, but occasionally tripping, causing me to be violently flung forward if I wasn’t hanging on for dear life, probably sums up the whole experience as best I can.

 

Galley Delights

 

No I’m not talking about the dishes we serve, although despite all odds Lesley and I both come up with incredible meals while underway.  

I’m referring to the delight’s of preparing those gourmet meals while underway.  When the passage is smooth and we have the windows open or the air con running it’s not difficult to work in the galley, but when the conditions are such that you have to hold on for grim death to anything that enables you to remain upright while everything around you is moving, it’s a real challenge.

Yesterday it was all too much for Lesley, we were both bouncing around the galley like ping pong balls in an arcade game, so I took over preparing the dinner, as by some miracle, despite the horrible conditions I was OK.  I’ve only taken one Dramamine (for seasickness) since I arrived, but that’s mainly because I just forget to take them, and by some miracle I haven’t been seasick once.  I’m actually able to function in the galley!  I think I may have found my sea-legs at last.  However, we were tipping from side to side so much, everything was slipping and sliding around all over the place, I was attempting to cook a vegetable curry with rice and samosa’s for six people.  The oven which is (obviously) gimbled, was tipping so much, with two large boiling pots on the top I couldn’t even open the oven and had to call Bob and Stuart to help. Just the effort of standing upright was exhausting.  True Blue continues to plow along at 10 knots, and at that speed it makes it even harder to find your balance.

Yesterday the galley sink pump stopped working, meaning we couldn’t drain the sink, so Glen and Bob had to take it all apart and fix it, not a fun job with the boat bouncing around and the galley about 100 degrees. Eventually Don put the air con on and that made a big difference. 

When provisioning in Portvila, I had spent a small fortune on wine and spirits (not that we’ve been drinking much on passage), but it proved a real challenge to find storage space for all of it onboard, consequently Lesley and I were filling every space in every cupboard to get it all stored away. 

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When Don was routing around looking for parts for the sink pump he opened a cupboard and three bottles of wine fell out, one landing smack on his head, producing a large bump, a headache and a bad temper… understandably he was not a happy bunny and came up on deck yelling at me to store the wine properly in the future;  I can’t say I blame him, I would have been pretty pissed too.  It could be a while before I offer him wine with his dinner!

 

To Australia – The Passage!

 

Friday 19/5/10 – ?

Don and the crew didn’t feel that the weather was favorable for our planned departure on Thursday, so it was Friday midday before we left the bay to head out, the weather was good, and our first day back at sea was quite lovely, even I enjoyed it. (that’s not something you will hear me say very often)

In fact the first two days at sea were enjoyable and easy going, we had to do a bit of motoring to speed up,  idea being that we would try to beat a storm coming up the coast.  We are trying to time our arrival that we will follow one storm but be ahead of the other.  Weather stuff is all very complex, much too complicated for my little landlubbers brain to comprehend.

During the first couple of days at sea, Lesley and I took advantage of the calm seas and set about preparing meals ahead of time, so we would have ready made meals for when the going got rough, and we wouldn’t be able to function in the galley.  This turned out to be the fourth day at sea.  

Oh For Those Lovely Nights At Sea!

Following a very uncomfortable, rolly third night, where I spent the entire  night in a loosing battle with the seas, attempting not to get tossed out of bed.  

 

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Bob was on the 11 – 1am shift which meant there were two hours where I was in bed alone and able to lie against the leigh cloth for protection and grab a little sleep, the rest of the night was spent clinging like a leach desperately onto the side of the mattress in a vain attempt to stop myself from rolling into Bob and waking him up every few minutes. There is a center leigh cloth as well as the side, but when  that’s up I feel as though I’m stuffed into a coffin and my claustrophobia kicks in big time. 

One time I fell asleep and rolled across the bed crashing into Bob, and would, without the side leigh cloth in place, have sent him spinning to the floor. Oh how I love these rolly nights at sea (NOT). 

Aside from the continuous movement, the bedroom switches from being a fridge when the air-con is running, to a sauna if the hatches are closed and the air-con off.

For those of you that have not slept on a boat in a very rolly sea, it feels as though the elements are doing their level best to toss you around just for the fun of it, the boat tips violently to one side, then the next and sometimes jumps forward, but is always at an angle, never flat, so you’re constantly being tossed around as though in a tumble dryer, it really is about as uncomfortable as anything could be, if it doesn’t make you seasick it will at the very least make you incredibly angry and irritable, especially after three nights without proper sleep.  

Three days to go to reach Mackay, Australia.  Lesley and I already have plans to spend a night in a hotel and have a massage

 

Dolphins and other Stuff…

 

Friday 10/5/10

We were all up on deck this morning having a leisurely breakfast, when a pod of around 12 young dolphins swam into the bay. They stayed and played in the bay for about an hour before disappearing back out to sea. Bob, Lesley and I went ashore to snorkel. The reefs here sustained some serious damage from the last cyclone and are not in a healthy state. The snorkeling was nice  but nothing special given the condition of the reefs. I tried to walk on the beach but it was so littered with sharp broken bits of coral and s was difficult to walk on. Eventually back on board we spent the rest of the day relaxing.  We played a couple of games of Pandemic in the evening, and managed to save the world twice… 

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We spent another couple of days in the bay just relaxing, reading and swimming before leaving for Portvila.  Bob had cut his shin on the companionway step a couple of days ago, it was infected and swollen, Don was taking care of it, hopefully antibiotics won’t be necessary. The water in the beautiful Pacific may be gloriously clear, but its full of bacteria, and cuts easily become infected. 

We arrived back in Portvila at 4pm on Monday 14th, having enjoyed a lovely brisk sail back. We met some friends Craig and Caroline as we came alongside, and enjoyed a fun evening of beer & cocktails with them at the Waterfront bar.

The next few days were all about preparations to leave for the passage to Australia, mountains of laundry, cleaning, provisioning and stowing, boat repairs, maintenance, refueling and putting the jib sail back up after being repaired, only to discover it still had more holes in it than a colander.  Instead of a quick job of raising the sail, it took over 4 hours in the blistering hot sun patching all the tears. Quite what the repair people thought giving it back to us in that state, I can’t imagine. 

Some other friends John & Debbie, from Oddity, were in the bay and we managed to catch up with them one evening for sundowners.

The  night before leaving we attended the Oyster party at a beach bar on the front in Portvila. It was fun to catch up with some of the other rally participants.

 

ASHORE WITH DR DON ON EMAE

At 8am this morning, Lesley drove Don, Glen, all the medical supplies and me, ashore to meet Dr Donald’s driver, we carefully picked our way in between all the coral heads to reach the shore, a very precarious trip at tick over speed. The driver picked us up in the one and only vehicle on the island, an old rusty pick up truck. I climbed into the bed of the truck with Glen, and quickly decided that it wasn’t the most sensible decision I had made recently given my “new hip”. The “road” for want of a better word, was two mud trails with a grassy middle, full of stones, boulders pot holes and thick undergrowth. To say the ride to the first village was bumpy, would be a huge understatement, I had to stand, it was quite a test for the new hip, which thankfully passed, although I was not about to test it again and gratefully accepted the inside seat in the truck for the following trips.
The first stop was Dr.Donald’s clinic, a brick/stone built building painted bright yellow, with a proper roof and some of Tom’s solar panels. There was no sink, water is a luxury here.
Don was concerned about the cleanliness in treating/diagnosing patients. He decided that he would do what he could in the future to get a sink installed and running water for the clinic.

Under the cover of the porch, we emptied all the bags of medical supplies onto a mat provided, and proceeded to sort them into groups, antibiotics. pain meds, bandages, ear & eye treatments, emergency kits, blood test strips, cough meds etc, etc… we had a bunch of stuff. Once it was all in order Glen and I carried it batch by batch into the medic storage room for the Dr and assistant to put in the right space on the shelves.

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Once all the meds were put safely away, I acted as patient for Don to demonstrate how to inspect and diagnose ear problems (of which there are many on this island) Dr Donald is a medic not a trained doctor, his knowledge is limited at best, but he does his best and its better than nothing. Don was teaching him how to diagnose the most common ear problems.
Then Glen and I walked around to see the local school and meet the peace corp worker Annalise, while Don and Dr Donald carried out a clinic on what looked like the entire village, they had all turned up with various problems, or just wanting to watch (there is no privacy here).
Glen and I were shown around the school library that Analisse had reorganized during her few months here. She has done an amazing job, given the tools available to her.

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Inside the local school library, organized by Annalise.

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Annalise’s kitchen.

We then all went for a walk to the beach on the far side of the Island, stopping along the way to chat to some of the locals on their way to the clinic. Analisse showed us her little house and her vegetable garden. It was very primitive to say the least, the kitchen stove was a small fire pit with two metal bars resting across the rim to stand pots or a kettle over. Water is a precious commodity here, so toilets, sinks and showers are a rare luxury. I admired her tremendously for her hard work and positive attitude, I don’t think I could do it.

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Food consists mainly of cabbage, taro, basic vegetables, pamplemousse, bananas, coconuts and a few other locally grown ingredients, variety is not something the locals have access to.
We all climbed back into the truck (me in the front seat) after Don had said enough, no more, the entire village (no exaggeration) had turned out to be seen, it would have taken him days to see everyone, and we still had three other villages still to got to. The villagers gave us bags of chili peppers, coconuts, bananas and pamplemousse as a thank you, as we headed out with Dr Donald to the next clinic. This turned out to be a palm leaf covered shelter open on all sides on the edge of the village, with a table and logs for seats around the outside. Shortly after arriving all the locals started turning up, and before long there was a long line to be seen. My job at all the clinics was to take photographs. Not a difficult job, the people were lovely, and the children adorable and funny. Finally at 4pm we were back on the beach waiting for Lesley to pick us up in the dinghy, I was exhausted. It had been a great day, and we came back laden down with fruit…

MEDICAL MISSION TO EMAE

Tuesday 7/5/18

Following a very relaxed Monday in Havannah bay, we weighed anchor early on Tuesday morning and set sail for the tiny Island of Emae (pronounced M-eye).

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As usual I slept for the best part of the trip, Bob fished and landed quite a sizable Tuna.  I really don’t like filleting Tuna, its messy, difficult and quite bloody.
Lesley didn’t want her galley messed up with all the fish scales and blood everywhere so I stood in the blistering hot sun on the stern deck to fillet the fish while Glen and Bob washed the deck down with salt water.
It was a messy, difficult business, the skin was hard steel and cutting through it was really hard. Glen helped me and I couldn’t have done it without his help, even with a very sharp filleting knife and shears.
I had changed into old clothes earlier which turned out to be sensible as I ended up covered in blood splatter and grosse fish bits, my hands stank of fish for days after…

Having said that, the tuna was delicious and fed 6 of us for a few delicious meals.

We arrived in the bay of Sulua, Emae, and dropped anchor, what a beautiful little Island it was,  no sooner had we dropped anchor than the chief of one of the villages came out to welcome us and grant us permission to swim and come ashore, I don’t think many visitors come here.

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this is the main road around the perimeter of the island that serves the one and only vehicle a truck, owned by the clinic.

Hardly any cruisers ever visit this lovely little island, there is absolutely nothing here in the way of tourist attractions, if thats what you’re looking for, we were not.

Emae only has a very small population of people living in simple huts made from palm leaves, bamboo and odd bits of timber & whatever is washed up on the shore, all hidden from view amongst the thick blanket of trees and fauna covering the Island down to the shoreline.  To look at it from the bay you would think the Island was uninhabited, only the occasional trails of smoke through the thick jungle of bush and trees give away any signs of life here.

A friend of Don & Lesley’s (Tom) is married to a lady (Annie) who’s Mother used to live here about 50 or 60 years ago, and sadly died of malaria on this island when she was just 27, her gravestone is a prominent feature here on the island, and she’s remembered fondly by many of the older people here. Tom has visited with his wife Annie, several times, they’ve installed solar panels all over the island, among other gifts to help the community.

Don had a contact (through Tom) on the island, another ‘Dr Donald’, a local medic, and Don was bringing bags and bags of medical supplies for the local clinic. Our plan was to go ashore early the next morning to take all the supplies and Don was going to hold clinics in all the villages, seeing the local people and children.
Our evening was quiet, a nice dinner of seared tuna and savory rice, followed by games of cards, and an early night, we were all quite worn out. I’m so excited to be going ashore tomorrow with Don and visiting the villages tomorrow…

Every Sailors Nightmare

Sunday 6th May 2018

Aside from having no beer and only 2 bottles of wine on board, we were all in high spirits as we sailed out of the bay and around to the other side of the Island, into the lovely anchorage of Havannah.
The weather was perfect, and the scenery stunningly beautiful. I hand washed a few of my “smalls” and Bob’s shorts, to hang out to dry while we were moving (got to keep apperances up, can’t be too posh, when on a posh boat LOL).
I was on the foredeck hanging up said items, all the guys were in the cockpit, and Lesley was in the galley preparing lunch, when I noticed that I could see the reef, approaching a shallow reef is not a good thing on a boat with a 7’ draft.
I yelled back to the crew that we were in “shallow water” and they needed to change course; immediately Stewart ran up to me on the foredeck and yelled back to the rest “STARBORD TURN NOW” I was yelling “BACK UP” (I always forget that a boat can’t simply stop, and change gear like a car)

I was in panic mode, the boat slowed, but it was a few seconds too late, and as we turned there was a jolt and a loud scraping as we brushed the coral reef beneath us, I heard Lesley in the galley shout “FUCK, FUCK” we kept turning but were now in really shallow water, another jolt and more scraping, True Blue tilted as she scraped the reef again and we all held our breath as we ground to a hault, and came to an unsteady standstill, Don slowly maneuvered her carefully back out and around into deep water with Stewart and me up on the foredeck doing our best to direct. Bob shot down below to rip up floorboards and make sure we were not letting in water. Happily all was normal in the bilge, apparently it sounded worse than it was.
We gently motored on to our intended anchorage which was only about 15 minutes away, where we dropped anchor and Don got into his dive gear to inspect the damage.
Stewart didn’t wait, he dived straight in with just his snorkel mask to take a look at the damage. He came up with a smile and said it just looked like surface scratches. Don took my GoPro down to get some video of what the damage actually looked like.
Oysters truly are well built, solid boats, for cruising yachts they really don’t come much better or stronger than this; yes, we had some surface damage obviously, it was quite a hit, the hull, keel & rudder all had scrapings and some deeper scratches, but everything structural appeared in good order, nothing that a decent paint job would’t fix, although Don intends to have her hauled out in Australia to repaint the hull.

Bob and I have run aground a few times over the last 10 years, but its usually been in sandy bottoms, we have yet to hit a reef, I hope to God we never do, it really is a sailors nightmare. I felt dreadful for not spotting the reef earlier, but in hindsight we were all a little remiss in our attention as we navigated through new territory. And at least I can console myself that I spotted it in time and no serious damage was done.

Thank fully all appears to be in good working order, just some aesthetics that need attention. Nothing out of the ordinary in the life of a yacht chartering pacific Islands. Although it was not a day I will forget in a hurry, and one I certainly hope never to repeat.

The happy news was that Lesley discovered a stash of liquor in the storage cabin, Scotch, 2 bottles of Gin, Vodka and a few other liquors, we didn’t have beer, but all was not lost, and the day ended happily with us all playing cards and drinking cocktails…

THE FALLS & “WHAT NO BEER”

Saturday 5th May 2018

Before leaving for our 9 day island excursion of some other islands of Vanuatu, we had all wanted to visit the Falls, they’re supposed to be lovely, and one of the few places not to miss on Efate. We attempted to make an early start, but with 6 of us all faffing about, it was never going to happen! By some miracle we did actually leave the boat just before 9am

Our cab driver George, picked us up ashore and drove us to the Falls, well actually not quite strait to the falls, there were 2 stops along the way to locate parts for the boat!
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Unfortunately for us, the cruise ship had come into port that morning, meaning if we didn’t get an early start we would be beaten to it by an invasion of happy cruisers spoiling the quiet of the falls and it would feel more like Disney than desertion!

As we sped along towards the falls we were overtaken by 2 busses loaded to the gills with what looked like cruisers. Happily, only one bus was at the falls when we arrived, so there was still some hope that we would experience the beauty of the location without having to share it with a thousand others.

The Falls fully lived up to their reputation and were tranquil and beautiful, with crystal clear water and amazingly beautiful flora and fauna, not to mention the butterflies and birds. Everyone, with the exception of me, climbed to the top of the falls and made their way down in the water, with Bob filming them all the way.
As I waited at my half way point, I took the opportunity to take photos of my totally gorgeous and peaceful surroundings, which were truly spectacular. Unfortunately the peace didn’t last for very long, when a bus load of cruisers came stomping, puffing and sweating loudly up the path to the base of the falls. They were the usual colorful lot in all their bright Hawaiian floral gear, with floppy hats, long socks and Jesus shoes, or the latest fluorescent Nike trainers. Sporting beetroot pink burnt bits, cameras, bags, towels and noisy kids with the usual inability to speak without shouting. I was thankful for the 20 minutes I had enjoyed prior to this invasion.

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Lesley walking back from the falls.

It’s not that I have anything against cruisers, I come from a family of them, its just that I love peace and quiet, and the opportunity to enjoy places of beauty without sharing it with 100 others.

Lesley and Glen got out of the water to join me while Stewart and Don made the trip to the base of the falls in the water, swimming, jumping and sliding their way down. Bob and I took photographs and film of them as Glen and Lesley educated me on the types and names of the beautiful flora surrounding us.

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Once back in the town we stopped at a local cruisers hangout for a lunch of fish and chips and a bottle of lovely chilled Sav.

Before we left Efete for the islands, Lesley and I did some last minute provisioning. The boys had said they would get the beer, but as it turned out they were busy on board with God only knows what, ‘another little fix it job’ or something not nearly as important as buying beer, anyway to cut a long story short, the beer didn’t get bought!
We discovered this after lunch when we were all back on board. Lesley and Don shot out in the Dinghy to see if there was anywhere opening selling beer, but it was Saturday and everywhere shut at noon…
To make matters worse we only had 2 bottles of wine.
This was going to be a fun trip!

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In a few days time, there wouldn’t be much we all wouldn’t have done for one of these!

Lost & Alone in Efete

Wednesday 2nd May 2018
I had booked myself a 6:45am flight from Auckland to Portvila, Vanuatu, so I stayed the night at the airport hotel where I enjoyed a really long leisurely shower, a soft comfortable bed and “The Great British Bake Off “ on TV.
Following a 3:30am wake up call, and with the usual New Zealand efficiency, my flight was on time. I was flying with Air New Zealand, which was lovely, even in economy I had plenty of room as I had managed to get myself a first class seat for the first flight, and an exit row seat by the window for the second flight.
I arrived in Portvila on time at 2:30, but it took another 90 minutes to get through, customs and immigration. At 4pm following some serious haggling over the cab fare, I took a cab down to the town where I had arranged to meet Bob, the arrangements had been a bit sketchy to say the least! “Go to the bar on the front, you can’t miss it!”

As we drove towards the seafront I quickly spotted True Blue out in the bay, and told the cab driver to let me out, I easily found the bar on the front, ordered a sparkling water (yes I said water, not wine) and sat down to wait, I waited, and waited, and waited… There was no sign of Bob, the bar’s internet wasn’t working so I was unable to send him a message to say where I was, but I knew that eventually someone would be going back to True Blue and I could jump up and down wave palm leaves around or something, and eventually attract their attention.
The time dragged on and I knew Bob would be worried but I didn’t want to go wandering around as that would make it even more difficult to find me, so I made the decision to stay put. After and hour and a half I ordered a glass of wine, it’s not often that I don’t finish a glass of wine, but this horrible, pretense of being an Australian Sav was more than I could bear. I was about to put my head in my hands and cry, I was lost, alone and worse still, drinking horrible wine, could things really be this bad? Suddenly out of the blue, there was Bob, like an angel from above, I was saved, he had hired a cab driver “George” to drive him all over the town searching for me, it was George who spotted me in the bar because of my bags, and low and behold I was found…

Crazy Daisy Crew Aboard True Blue for World Rally # 2

April – May 2018
After we made the decision to join our friends Don and Lesley on their beautiful Oyster 66, ‘ True Blue’ for the second Oyster World rally. It was all hands on deck, (with the exception of yours truly) getting her ready to join the Oyster World Rally. My very important job was to help Lesley create beautiful meals for our crew…

I’m not convinced that Bob had fully taken onboard the amount of work involved. He spent the best part of two weeks in the engine room, despite True Blue being a 66’ boat, the engine room is not the best to work in, (its a hands and knees job in there).
There were a few problems requiring attention, nothing too problematic and nothing Bob was unable to fix, there were a few issues with the engine itself, the generator , the furling on the mainsail, and the auto pilot and this and that, the list just went on and on (as it always does on all boats, new and old), but Bob was determined to do everything he could to fix it and make it safe for all of us, with the help of Captain Don, Glen and Stewart (crew) they diligently worked their way through all the issues one by one..

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Finally, after a few false starts, we were about ready to leave Whangarei and head up to Opua to join the rest of the rally. This was where Don informed me that I would not be joining them for the first part of the trip, I would have to wait behind and fly up to Vanuatu and join True Blue there.

I had dislocated my hip twice following my surgery in November, and Don was worried that if we had a rough crossing I would be in danger of another dislocation if I got thrown about in rough weather. And being so far from land and any hospitals, it didnt make any sense to take the risk. I was really dissapointed, although I understood.
As it turned out, two of the days in the passage were really quite rough, so all in all it was a good decision on Captain Don’s part that I wasn’t with them.
Splash day was (initially) very exciting, she was finally going back into the water, unfortunately, once back in the water there was yet another immediate problem.
Bob who was onboard for the launch, was able to immediately get to grips with it and diagnose the problem, but we needed parts (a gasket)!
I met Don ashore, and the two of us drove around Whangarei trying to find a gasket for whatever it was that wasn’t behaving itself aboard, while Bob took on another “fix it job”. All the time with the anchor dragging, it turned out to be a somewhat stressful day, not the exciting day we had all looked forward to. However, Bob finally fixed the problem and they were all set, sadly it was too late in the day to leave for Opua, tomorrow morning would have to do…
Bob didn’t leave with them he stayed a few extra days with me in Whangarei while Don, Lesley and crew sailed her up to Opua. There were a few “must do”jobs on Daisy (surprise, surprise) before he could leave. Once he was satisfied all was OK, we both drove up to Opua to join the crew, for hopefully a few relaxing days.
A few of the other Oysters were in the marina, all of them chomping at the bit to get going, they needed the right weather window. The day they left I drove myself back to Whangarei and Daisy.

I stayed on Daisy out on the hard in the shipyard for a week, it wasn’t that bad, I had some lovely people there for company, and I was able to keep busy with a few jobs on Daisy, making sure she was safely put to bed for a few months while we were gone.

I had moved all my luggage (and all the other related crap I take everywhere with me) onboard before they left, so I was ready to make my flights with just a back pack and a small carry-on.
My flight from Whangarei to Auckland was very easy, I had a lift to the airport from John (a boat neighbor). It was a very small airport, no security, no check-in, you simply scan your boarding pass and jump on the plane, it reminded me of how flying used to be about 30 years ago, before all the damn security became necessary. I was excited to finally be joining the crew for another adventure.